Today at the public library where I work, a young woman came up to me. She was wearing a t-shirt with a straight edge slogan on it, which would imply that she's somewhat of a rock music fan. She asked me if I knew what R.E.M. sounded like because she had only heard of them.
R.E.M. were a staple of my college years. College rock when we didn't
have a good name for what came after punk. They earned their fan base
with constant touring and college radio support when they were a little
too weird for the commercial stations. A DJ on Princeton or Penn or
Drexel's station referred to their fourth album as Stipe's Rich Parents, which was
funny as a insider joke, that you knew the password, rather than for
any real statement about the lead singer's family's financial status.
The band whose only concession to mainstream sensibilities was that
Michael Stipe stopped mumbling, although even that led to debates of
whether they were selling out. A band so big with the youths that
references to them were plot points in two episodes of Beverly Hills 90210. The American band of the '80s who
are unequivocally headed for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But she'd never heard them.
I am officially old.